Norwegian North Sea and Skagerrak herring fisheries seek MSC eco-label –

Norwegian North Sea and Skagerrak herring fisheries seek MSC eco-label Published:  16 October, 2007

Rupert Howes

THE Norwegian North Sea and Skagerrak herring fisheries have officially applied to be assessed against the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) environmental standard for well managed and sustainable fisheries.

If their assessment is successful, the fisheries may mark their catch with the internationally recognised blue MSC eco-label and thus allow customers to identify their catch as being from fisheries that ensure the long-term sustainability of their stocks and the ecosystems they operate in.

The fisheries have an allocated TAC of around 106,000 tonnes for 2007. Together with the four other North Sea herring fisheries in the MSC certification programme, they account for roughly 80 percent of the total North Sea herring TAC and 100 percent of the Skagerrak herring TAC. The fisheries use purse seiners and pelagic trawlers to catch herring (Clupea harengus) from two separate stocks. They market their products mainly to Europe.

The application for assessment has been submitted by Norges Sildesalgslag, an organisation representing the economic interests of Norwegian pelagic fishermen. Knut Torgnes, Director of Sales at Norges Sildesalgslag, says: “We welcome the market’s interest in sustainability and measures to stop IUU fishing. Independent third party certification to the MSC standard is a tool helping the industry to demonstrate good practice in accordance with the FAO code of conduct for fisheries.”

Rupert Howes, the MSC’s Chief Executive, commented: “The MSC’s certification and eco-labelling programme is designed to identify and reward good practice. With a reputation for having some of the best-managed fisheries in the world, MSC has always believed that there is a good ‘fit‘ between the MSC programme and Norway and very much welcomes Norges Sildesalgslag’s decision to bring these fisheries forward into full assessment. There is no doubt that market interest in third party certification is increasing and we anticipate this trend to continue.”

The assessment to the MSC standard will be conducted by independent certifier Moody Marine and a team of experts. They will assess the fisheries against the three principles of the MSC standard:

– The sustainability of the target stocks;

– The minimisation of the fisheries’ impacts on the marine ecosystem; and

– Effective management systems.

The targeted herring stocks are separate and there are two gear types used in the North Sea. Therefore, the assessment will need to consider three fisheries separately, although the assessments will take place simultaneously.

The four herring fisheries already in the MSC certification programme are Hastings fleet pelagic fishery, North Sea herring Swedish pelagic fishery, Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association North Sea herring and Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group Ltd (SPSG) North Sea Herring. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.